Being a food blogger is a crazy, amazing, messy, frustrating, exhilarating life that isn't the easiest to understand unless you're...a food blogger.
So you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to spend a long weekend on Lake Michigan in a beyond dreamy house with 16 insanely awesome people that live my crazy life and love every second of it. We laughed, we learned, we taught, we recharged, we inspired, we relaxed, we ate, we drank, and then we ate and drank some more!
The conference was hosted by lovely Liz of The Lemon Bowl and co-hosted by Dara of Cookin' Canuck and Phi of Sweet Phi. The rest of the fabulous crew included Fit Foodie Finds, Skinnytaste, Chez Us, Andie Mitchell, Foodie Crush, Order in the Kitchen, Amy’s Healthy Baking, Show Me the Yummy, and Always Order Dessert. Hurry and go follow these lovebugs right this second!
The best part was that no one knew each other in real life prior to the retreat. Amazing, right?! It was such a diverse, friendly, inspiring, and talented group that was just small enough to foster intimate, honest conversations about the business of blogging and life in general.
While I learned TONS about food photography, time management, working with brands, and building a business, my fondest memories weren't of workshops and business chatter. It was when we were cracking up about nothing over freshly popped rosemary popcorn, making s'mores around the fire, whipping up each other's recipes, and reminiscing about dinner the night before over hot pancakes.
So as gorgeous and perfect as the house and the lake were, the more beautiful part about #FreshCoastRetreat was the people. Relationships are everything to me. I treasure meeting new people, learning their story, and nurturing that long-term friendship. There are those you can network with and there are those you can be friends with. Then there's that rare but fabulous in-between group where you can do both.
You can give and take advice about building a brand and then just as easily face-plant into Syrian Salad or Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies amidst deep conversations about life. Or talk for hours about boyfriends and have sunset engagement photo shoots (oh hi, Fit Foodie Finds!). That was what this was, and I'll always cherish that.
I love being put outside of my comfort zone. The whole experience was so enriched by the fact that there was no wifi and that I didn't know any of these lovely people beforehand. We put Snapchat on hold and relished in real, face to face conversations. It was so damn refreshing. And inspiring! I left feeling so, so inspired.
I hope to be stuck in a house again with 16 food bloggers sooner rather than later! Like, tomorrow.
Sending so many hugs to the incredibly generous sponsors of #FreshCoastRetreat, including Bob’s Red Mill, Sabra, Stonyfield, and Experience Grand Rapids. Thank you times a million for keeping our bellies full and hearts happy all weekend long! Last but not least, thank you to Alejandro Photography, for making our memories permanent with your beautiful pictures.